Fall Vegetables and Fruit
What’s in season at the farmers’ markets in the fall? Cooler weather brings the peak of fall harvest and my willingness to turn on a stove again. Many people quit going to the farmers’ market at this time of year, but I love the winter squash, greens, and ripe peppers you’ll find there. Fall produce provides inspiration for packing healthy lunches and celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving. I rely on the grocery store for organic fall fruit such as apples and pears. Read on for fall vegetables and bargains plus recipes to use the bounty.
What’s in Season: Early Fall Vegetables
At the farmers’ market in early fall, look for ripe bell peppers, okra, and eggplant. This season starts in mid-September for me here in central North Carolina. You’ll find the first of the cool-weather greens such as arugula, lettuce, mizuna, and bok choy. Look for butternut squash, Kabocha squash, and other hard winter squashes. Look for bargains on peppers just before the first freeze. I chop and freeze peppers raw or put them in stews for easy, thrifty winter meals.
What’s in Season: Mid Fall Vegetables
Green beans are back at the farmers’ market and maybe in your home garden, after flagging in the heat of the summer. Bell peppers and shishito peppers continue strong. Enjoy local mushrooms, including young shiitakes. Buy beautiful pumpkins and winter squash for eating and for decorating. Get a bargain by stocking up on sweet potatoes. They keep for months in a cool, dry, dark place. Just make sure to keep them in the same position. My expert sweet-potato farmer told me that having first one side up and then the other shortens the storage time. Buy kale and most other greens when they appear, but remember that collards get sweeter when they’ve been touched by frost.
What’s in Season: Late Fall Vegetables and Fruit
As the cold weather arrives, look for greens, roots, and mushrooms at the farmers’ market. You’ll also find vegetables that keep well, including winter squash and pumpkins. Experiment with fierce-looking but mild kohlrabi, gigantic daikon radishes, and Asian greens. Cook pumpkin and sweet potatoes in savory and sweet dishes. Pile on the super-food greens like rainbow chard, Swiss chard, kale, collards, and mustard greens.